A lot of people have asked if J & I are still attempting to climb Mount Rainier at the end of July. Could be the fact I have not mentioned a single peep about it on the blog in a LONG time …
Indeed we are! We were able to work the time in with our BP contract and, frankly, there is value to BP for us to attempt a big climb as Rainier.
Unfortunately, our training has been close to nilch. Our last day of Insanity (Now) was April 19. We never even made it to 60 days of Insanity (Now). The month of March & April, we did it intermittently at best and made it to day 56 or so. And now we live on the road. Yes, we are active people. We hike, we run, we paddle (no more biking on the road). But, it is not really enough.
We are kicking our training into high gear this month.
The truth is, our training “schedule” couldn’t have worked out better. We are on the West coast, where the big mountains are. Training involves lots of altitude acclimatization. And our job “requires” us to backpack when we can. Perfect!
Have I told you how prone I am to altitude sickness? One time at sea level, I tested my blood oxygen level and it read 87%. I think the norm is in the high 90s. So decreased oxygen at higher altitudes is a bit of a problem for me. I usually get a headache, definite shortness of breath after taking 2 steps and nausea. It is not fun, but I try to work through it.
This long preface is only to share with you some absolutely gorgeous pictures of our most recent backpacking trip in the Medicine Bow National Forest in Wyoming, aka Rainier Training Hike #1. It was a hike suggested by one of the BP editors who joined us at our event in Fort Collins back in May (http://www.backpacker.com/rip-and-go-medicine-bow-national-forest/destinations/14326).
You can’t tell me we don’t have the best office view??!!
We did a 16-mile loop hike. The first day we got a late start on the trail (6:30pm!), so we only hiked about 4.5 miles.
So the second day was stacked with miles. Most of the time, we were hiking between 10,000-11,000 feet. The elevation change was very gradual. I was winded, but no headache. I couldn’t believe how many pristine lakes we passed. I lost count. This is a fisherman’s mecca (Misti & Chris, put this on your bucket list, although I know you don’t do well with altitude either).
But, on day 2, we took a side trail up to the Medicine Bow peak at 12,013 feet. It was 2 miles up with an elevation change of 1,200 feet. We crossed snow fields, boulder fields and enjoyed some unbelievable views.
The 2 miles took us (me) 2 hours, but I made it to the top!!!
The trip was great. It was our first time backpacking in Wyoming and we fell in love. Besides the challenge of acclimatizing to altitude, the only other lesson I learned on the trip was while sunglasses were unnecessary weight on the AT and most East coast trails, they are a necessary item on these West coast trails and at higher altitudes. I believe I am squinting in 90% of these pictures. In preparation for some of our other high-altitute hikes, J & I have now invested in glacier glasses. J is happy to announce that even though he gets most of his gear for free these days, he is still able to wheel & deal, as proven by his score on glacier glasses. He hasn’t lost his touch.
We are planning to do another backpacking trip Sunday-Tuesday, again at higher elevations. AKA Rainier Training Hike #2. Wish us oxygen, lots and lots of oxygen.